Thursday, 16 June 2016

Call for new MAYS coordinator - apply now!

Dear MAYS members,

We are looking for one new coordinator who will take Natashe’s place from July on and together with Mari keep MAYS as lively and active as usual. We currently have more than 500 members from all over the world and we keep on growing! Through MAYS, young scholars in medical anthropology have the opportunity to exchange their ideas and discuss their work in the pleasant peer-atmosphere of our annual meetings.

The MAYS coordinators simultaneously function as student representatives in the board of the Medical Anthropology Network within EASA however, the main work of MAYS coordination consists in the management of the MAYS google group, updating the website, and, which certainly is the most fun, organizing the annual conference. Of course, there are all kinds of other things one could think of, but that’s all up to the new coordinators.

There are basically no requirements you have to fulfil other than being a PhD student in medical anthropology but it is certainly very helpful to have the backup of an anthropological institution (that could also, for instance, host a future annual MAYS conference).

The online elections will take place from July 11th until July 22nd and the new coordinator will be announced on the 29th of July. The deadline for sending in your application is July 8th!

Here are 5 good reasons why you should consider becoming a MAYS coordinator:

1. You get to turn your ideas regarding medical anthropology into concrete events that inspire many other students.
2. You learn a lot about event organization and networking.
3. You get to know lots of amazing people and significantly enlarge your professional network.
4. You have experienced MAYS-veterans (Claire Beaudevin, Susann Huschke, Katerina Ferkov, Dominik Mattes, Judith Schuehle) by your side and you get to profit from the great work that Mari, your co-coordinator, does!
5. It’s great for your CV – not just in academia.

If you want to get more actively engaged in MAYS, please write a short e-mail to Please attach a short CV with a few lines on your current professional situation with regard to your academic career/status and institutional affiliation and your ideas for MAYS. This application will then be circulated among all MAYS members and will be the basis for members to vote. Please send your application in by July 8th!

Please do not hesitate to write if you have any further specific questions! We’ll be happy to tell you more about the fun that being a MAYS coordinator entails!

We are very much looking forward to hearing from you!

Mari and Natashe

Monday, 13 June 2016

The MAYS 'mothers' by Susann Huschke and Claire Beaudevin

Dear MAYS members,
We are delighted to welcome Susann Huschke and Claire Beaudevin with their new blog entry about the beginning of what has later become our network.

Would you also be interested in writing a piece for the MAYS website?
Click here to learn how!

Enjoy reading!

MAYS "founding mothers"

Susann Huschke and Claire Beaudevin

Susann – MAYS was a fortunate coincident, really. My PhD supervisor suggested that I put myself up for election as the student representative of the EASA Medical Anthropology network. The room was crammed full, and I was late, as usual. Standing by the door because there were no seats left, I met Claire. She introduced herself and said: should we both put ourselves up for election together, it sounds way more fun to share the position? And so we did, and the rest is history.

One of the key ingredients for a successful network or event of any sort seems to be, to me at least, to collaborate with people you actually like. With people you can rely on and people whose work style you like. Everyone’s got their way of doing things. Having organized events together with various different people over the last years, I have learned that working with a friend and colleague who has a similar way of doing things makes everything run so much smoother, and much more fun, too. At the same time, Claire and I work in very different areas in terms of our research and have different ways of looking at the world, which is also very important because it means you get to see things (such as abstracts to be evaluated, topics to focus on, methods to be selected) from multiple perspectives. Last but not least, it is useful if the team members have different practical skills. Claire, for example, is an IT wizard, whereas I am rather useless with any sort of technology. Much of MAYS could not have happened the way it did without her expertise!

Claire – I could not agree more with Susann about the importance of working with people you like and respect and with whom you can team up with complementary skills (and with fun)! It may seem obvious and/or trivial, but it's not always that easy to implement ;-) It's also a motto I've tried to follow since then, as applying it makes my professional life so much better!

Once upon a time, before Susann came up with a good name for it, MAYS was named StuMedAnth (I might be good for IT, but I was not that good when choosing this initial Gmail login!). And since these early days, one of its great features is fluidity, flexibility (that has been allowed by EASA, the umbrella institution): to be in, one only needs to subscribe to the listserv. This has a price, of course: the absence of a running budget. But it has also an advantage: we had to learn how to organize events with a high scientific value and very few expenses. And it also led to having highly motivated people onboard each time we co-organized events (Oxford, Berlin, Warsaw, and Paris)!

MAYS brought a lot to my life, besides tons of hours of volunteer work: first of all, I gained a great friend. As of different practical skills, I have to say Susann's great English helped me a lot to move beyond weird French-English! Over the years, we have learned how to work closely together despite the fact we never lived in the same country. We have thus coordinated MAYS from Germany, France, Northern-Ireland and the Sultanate of Oman.

Now that MAYS counts almost 500 members (10 times the initial membership!), we both hope it will continue to expand, to link up young medical anthropologists wherever they work, foster new initiatives and to organize groundbreaking events! We would like to emphasize another key feature of MAYS that keeps it going year after year: the will to strengthen a friendly, informal work atmosphere in its conferences, and to truly engage with each other's work.

Longue vie à MAYS ;)
Susann Huschke and Claire Beaudevin

Monday, 23 May 2016

Guest Note Lecture by Prof. Arthur Kleinman at 7th MAYS Conference, Lisbon

Dear Mays members,

we are excited to announce that Prof. Arthur Kleinman will be delivering a key note during the upcoming 7th MAYS conference in Lisbon. Prof. Kleinman's lecture will be open to the public, so please be welcome to attend and share the news with your network.

7th MAYS Conference Program - online!

Dear MAYS members, 
please find here the program of the upcoming 7th MAYS Conference in Lisbon!

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Fielnotes and Thoughts Series: Dominik Arkuszewski

Dear Mays members,
today we are happy to welcome Dominik Arkuszewski, from the Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology Institute of the Adam Mickiewicz University (Poland) with this new blog for our series 'Fieldnotes and Thoughts'.

Would you also be interested in writing a piece for the MAYS website?
Click here to learn how!

Enjoy reading!

Embodiment as healing

by  Dominik Arkuszewski, 
Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology Institute, 
Adam Mickiewicz University (Poland)

As Thomas Csordas proposed, the body can be seen as the existential ground of culture (1997). This postulate can have a revolutionary impact on social sciences. Why? The answer lies somewhere between the lived body, embodiment paradigm and senses, particularly the senses of touch (Paterson 2007). As Andrew Strathern claimed turning embodiment in the direction of the senses can lead to the revitalization of ethnography itself (1996: 200). David Howes coined the term "sensual revolution" to elaborate a " ideological move that has turned the tables and recovered a full-bodied understanding of culture and experience" (Pink 2009: 21) Sarah Pink puts her two pennyworth in saying that “it is generally agreed that it is time to attend to the senses” (Pink 2009: 19).

We, as anthropologists, can theorize the body in terms of having/being dialectic or switch to focus on what bodies can do and become. Phenomenologists’ notion of a lived body reveals it as alive, dynamic field of sensations, not just a flesh object deferred to brains’ control. The ambiguity of human experience, where we mutually are and possess the body still remains in the spotlight. The notion of practices, which enable and coordinate the doing, can add a transformative factor to the above. This transformation can be put into healing terms and affect all the body’s dispositions.

The following text describes a research related to my MA thesis. I had spent nearly three years with the taijiquan/qigong group in Poznan, Poland. Firstly as a participant and later as a researcher. The formal orientation of the group is rather vague. In other words, many different approaches (spiritual, martial, psychological or therapeutical) can be distinguished in the course of subsequent meetings. The group was created five years ago by one man and includes 8 to 16 people depending on the season. During the classes taijiquan is presented in a fairly classical way while qigong exercises are taught using more unconventional methods, as I will elaborate below.